President’s Update: Campus activities resume; Dr. Birx praises Clemson’s efforts

September 25, 2020

Dear Clemson Family:

Today is the end of our first week of in-person instruction and on-campus activities for the fall semester. It was great to see our students back on campus and to know that they are getting back into the classroom as we had planned.

Nearly 200 faculty members delivered in-person instruction this week, and we expect that number to grow in the coming weeks – even as we continue to offer high-quality online components to all our classes.

Our faculty have shown amazing resiliency and creativity on behalf of our students, and I am so appreciative of the level of commitment and care they continue to exhibit.  Likewise, our staff – especially those responsible for keeping our facilities clean and safe – have done a tremendous job.

We also have enjoyed a return to athletic competition, including a perfect 3-0 start by our women’s soccer team and our first home football game last Saturday against The Citadel, with 18,000 enthusiastic – and socially distanced – fans in attendance. Our Athletics department did a superb job creating a safe experience for our fans, who did their part by responsibly cheering our Tigers to victory.

What we have seen this week – and throughout the pandemic – is truly the very best of the Clemson spirit. This week’s OUR Clemson employee newsletter nicely captures some of the highlights of the first days of in-person instruction.

Our Students Are Stepping Up

Perhaps the most gratifying sights this week have been those of our students going about their business on campus while adhering to the new rules and guidelines on face coverings and social distancing. The campus has truly come to life in the last week, and everywhere you go, our students can be seen wearing face coverings – often even while walking outdoors by themselves.

Much has been made about the behavior of college students across the country contributing to increased COVID-19 cases. Our students haven’t been perfect in this regard, but the vast majority have proven to be extremely responsible and have shown the kind of thoughtfulness and care that we attribute to members of the Clemson Family.

I’m extremely proud of our how students have adapted to these challenging circumstances. At the same time, I would urge all of them to not let down now. We’re off to a great start, and the longer we follow the important precautions we have instituted, the better our chances are of completing the semester together as we all hope.

Test Results 

Our COVID-19 testing dashboard has been expanded to provide more information consistent with our commitment to transparency. The latest update can be found here. We also began mandatory random surveillance testing of students this week and the early results have indicated only a modest increase in the percentage of individuals testing positive compared to the previous week.

The rate of positive tests among our students remains well below the state average, another sign that they are serious about doing what it takes to protect themselves and those around them.

Clemson Hosts Dr. Birx

I was delighted to spend much of today with Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, during her visit to our main campus. While here, Dr. Birx visited our student testing center, toured our Athletics facilities and met with University and student leadership. She also participated in a roundtable discussion with some of our outstanding faculty members to learn about their research related to COVID-19.

She had strong praise for all that we continue to do to deliver on our promise of providing a world-class education to our students, despite the unprecedented challenges we all are facing. I was extremely proud of our students, faculty and staff who represented Clemson in an outstanding manner.

Next week, will mark seven months since Clemson began working on its response to COVID-19 – before the first cases were even reported in the United States. So much has happened that it’s hard to believe it’s only been seven months, but as I watch our main campus and locations around the state move closer to something that looks like normal operations, I am deeply appreciative for all my teammates.

We have never wavered in our commitment to students and to our home state, and we’re committed to continuing to fulfill our mission of education, research and service. To all of you who have supported our work, thanks for doing your part to keep Clemson strong.

Go Tigers!



Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements